Levi Strauss, the apparel manufacturer, believes the disruption caused by COVID-19 presents an opportunity to positively transform elements of its business.

Chip Bergh, the firm’s CEO, did not underplay the human cost of the pandemic, or the need to protect employees, during a conference call with investors.

“I also believe that crisis presents opportunities, and we will be ready to act on those that make good strategic sense,” he added. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Levi's is using COVID-19 as stimulus to transform its business.)

“Whether that’s taking back underperforming franchise businesses, or upgrading real-estate locations because of retail bankruptcies, or finding great talent in a decimated job market, the crisis gives us an opportunity to not just renew the business, but to reset it for the future.”

The organisation’s goal is thus not only to survive by “playing defense”, Burgh further explained – with digital marketing programs and online commerce at the heart of its strategy.

“We will play to our strengths, leveraging the strength of the brand, our connection with our fans, and the digital capabilities and omnichannel capabilities that we’ve invested in over the last few years,” he added.

Although Levi’s has “substantially” reduced its advertising and promotional (A&P) expenditure due to COVID-19, it is identifying appropriate ways to engage its target audience.

“To be very clear, we are cutting back on A&P, but we’re being deliberate and strategic about actions that we can take to strengthen the relationship between the brand and the consumer,” Bergh said. “We’re continuing to invest during this period. We have not gone completely dark.”

As cases in point, Levi’s is holding a live concert series on Instagram, and has launched a new clothing range in partnership with gaming specialist Nintendo, based on the latter company’s iconic “Super Mario” franchise.

“That’s why I think it’s really important that we continue to build our relationship with the consumer during this period of time of isolation. We’re not going to let them forget about Levi’s while they’re cooped up in their home,” Bergh said.

“We’re pivoting our marketing approach in response to the current environment,” he added. “People are looking to connect these days – and Super Mario puts a smile on everyone's face.”

Sourced from WARC